Settlers step up campaign against PM

"Don’t extend freeze," activists implore as Netanyahu heads to US.

Settler Protest 311 (photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Settler Protest 311
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Settlers stepped up their campaign against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday as he prepared to leave for Washington to meet with US President Barack Obama.
They held a small rally in front of the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem and sent phone messages to Likud Party members, including activists, parliamentarians and ministers, against any new initiative to curb Jewish construction in the West Bank.
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The flurry of activity comes as settlers and their supporters fear that Netanyahu will renege on his pledge to end the moratorium on new settlement construction and instead extend it beyond its end date of September 26.
As the cabinet met on Sunday morning, the Binyamin and Samaria Citizens Committee hoisted a large banner on a crane, and hung it mid-air across the street.
“Bibi is trampling on the settlements,” it read.
The committee also set up a loud speaker that broadcast statements by ministers promising that settlement construction would resume.
Solidarity march to thwart bargaining of Jordan Valley
Meanwhile, the Council for Peace and Security toured the Jordan Valley in a solidarity march, to explain its strategic significance in hopes of thwarting any attempt by the government to place the region on the bargaining table as territory that could be handed over to the Palestinians.
It also issued a sticker with a picture of Obama, that adapted his famous campaign slogan so that it read, “Jordan, We Can! The Jordan Valley – Israel’s security border.”
The Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip on Sunday morning sent 5,000 phone messages to Likud Party members, which warned the receiver that they were about to receive an important phone call from Netanyahu.
The phones then rang with a recording of a statement Netanyahu made when the moratorium was put in place in November, in which he promised that it was a one-time gesture that would expire in 10 months.
As part of what it terms its “My word is my word” campaign, the council also initiated a billboard campaign in which it has published photographs and statements by politicians promising that new settlement construction would resume at the start of September.
Under the direction of council director- general Naftalie Bennett, it issued a wayfarer’s prayer.
“May it be your will, that you should lead us to peace, direct us to peace, and guide us to peace over those that pressure us. Give us the strength to stand firm, to watch over the trials of our land and know when to say ‘enough’ to the leaders of the world.
Save us from any enemy along the way, whether in the United States of America or any other country in the world. Place in our hearts the deeper understanding that we have no other land. Bless us that we should be successful in all our affairs. Listen to the voice of our supplication, for you are a God that listens to prayer and supplication.
Blessed are you who listens to prayer.”
'Washington trip could determine the moratorium's fate'
Council chairman Dani Dayan told The Jerusalem Post that Netanyahu’s Washington trip could determine the moratorium’s fate.
“We understand that the issue of expanding the freeze [beyond its end date] could be arranged at this meeting between Netanyahu and Obama,” Dayan said. “We thought it was important, before the meeting, to remind [Likud party members, the public] and Obama himself of promises Netanyahu and the ministers made.”
On Friday, the Binyamin and Samaria Citizens Committee placed ads in the media attacking Netanyahu.
In a statement released to the press on Tuesday night the committee said that its ad campaign marks the first time since Netanyahu took office in March 2009 that it has directed attacks against him.
In the past, the committee has focused on Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who has enforced the moratorium and heads the Labor Party.
The committee said it feared that in Washington, Netanyahu would cave in to US pressure to extend the moratorium, or, as a compromise, suggest that construction resume in only a small portion of the West Bank.
Settlers promised to fiercely oppose Netanyahu should he agree to do either.
Under the terms of the moratorium, work has continued on around 3,000 new apartment units in Judea and Samaria.
Data released at the end of last month by the Central Bureau of Statistics for the first quarter of 2010 showed that, for the first time in the history of the settlement movement, there were no housing starts during a three-month period.